Thursday, November 30, 2006

End of November post

It has been a month and I have been lazy about posting.

I've also been busy, writing an article on the 2nd year of Caesar's Gallic War, and revising an article about Heloise and Abelard for Renaissance Magazine--which I hope they'll run in their February romance issue.

Took a trip, too, and sampled great food and wine in New Mexico. If anyone wants restaurant recommendations in Santa Fe, try Inn of the Anastazi and Pasquale's (one expensive, one not). At Taos, stop at Joseph's Table. In between, try El Paragua in Espanola.

And what is a trip to Santa Fe without art? Here is my souvenir, a beautiful painting titled Sacred Ground by Carol Bryant.

OK, on to the latest read: Roman Gaul and Germany, by Anthony King.

He makes some good points. For example, King shows that Gaullish and German culture before Caesar’s invasion was divided more along the north-south boundary of the Somme, rather than the east v. west division marked by the Rhine. Good.

What bothers me—what ALWAYS bothers me—is that so much of Caesar’s words are taken as gospel, even though King and most authors are willing to dispute Caesar in carefully chosen areas. King argues effectively over the division between Gaul and German culture. He negates the first lines of Caesar’s book on the Gallic War, dividing Gaul into three parts. Yet King seems to give full credence to everything Caesar says about leadership in Gaul.

Per Caesar, Diviciacus was an elected leader in charge of the Aedui. Many scholars pass this along as gospel. Why? Because Caesar said so. Right in book 1 of de bello gallico. Diviciacos is the elected leader, and his rabble-rousing brother Dumnorix got rich off taxing river traffic, and tried to take over.

Caesar said so--but why should we believe him? Our only source is Caesar, and there are SOOOOO many reasons why he could be wrong. Bad translators. Misunderstandings. And . . . gee . . . I dunno . . . the idea that Diviciacus wanted to play ball with the Romans and Dumnorix (whose name just happens to mean KING) wanted to kick Caesar's legions out. Isn’t it just possible that Caesar found a cooperative ally and propped him up against a legitimate king?

Or am I just cynical?

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